State Lawmaker Wants Tougher Penalties for “Porch Pirates”

Tis the season for packages to be delivered to front doors and Grinch’s to steal them.  With the ongoing pandemic and online purchases skyrocketing, more and more boxes are being left on porches unattended for hours making them prime targets for thieves.

“As we’ve come to depend on commerce by mail in this digital age, package theft is growing, and that’s creating a need for a law specifically aimed at ‘porch piracy’ to more accurately reflect our societal values and deter these thieves through increased criminal penalties,” said Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub.

Rep. Wendi Thomas of Bucks County is working on legislation to crack down on home delivery theft.  Thomas is crafting the legislation with input from Weintraub.

Theft of mail is currently charged as a theft offense based solely on the value of the item taken. Thomas’s bill would implement specific penalties for theft of mail which includes a package, bag or letter. The grading of this offense would increase if the person has prior convictions for theft of mail.

Under the legislation, the first offense would be a summary offense if the value of the merchandise is less than $150. If the value of the package is more than $150, or it’s a second offense, it would be a second-degree misdemeanor. A third offense, regardless of the package value, would be a third-degree felony.

A 2019 report found that 36% of Americans who shop online have had a package stolen.  Surveys done in 2021 found that Americans lost about $210 million to porch pirates.